Wedding Dresses For Wheelchair Users: How to Find That Perfect Gown

By Kelly Rouba
Reprinted with permission from The Mobility Resource.

As someone who loves watching shows like Say Yes to the Dress on TLC, you can imagine how excited I was when I got engaged this summer and finally had the opportunity to shop for my perfect wedding dress. Although I didn’t have bridal consultant extraordinaire Randy Fenoli by my side, I was lucky enough to be able to turn to fashion guru Christine Schwab for advice.

Schwab and I both have rheumatoid arthritis and have gotten to know each other as fellow board members of the Arthritis National Research Foundation. A noted television personality and author of several fashion, beauty and lifestyle books, Schwab has shared her expert advice as a guest on many talk shows over the years. Ironically, her introduction to learning how to style women who use wheelchairs came when she was asked to do several fashion makeovers for what was then Live with Regis & Kathie Lee.

Since I also use a wheelchair, I knew she’d be the perfect person to turn to for advice on what to look for in a wedding dress. Many of her tips can be found throughout this article, along with helpful advice from other fashion experts and even a few brides themselves. By following their recommendations, I was able to find my perfect dress and there’s no doubt that you will too.

Chairs on Television: Are We Moving Forward?

By Amy Saffell

I don’t have to tell you that TV shows that feature characters with disabilities, and specifically those in chairs, are few and far between. People with disabilities would love for the attitudinal barriers that others put on them to go away, but it isn’t easy when mainstream media doesn’t give many examples for people to look to of a successful person with a disability who might give them a reason to think differently about the capabilities of people with disabilities. Perhaps the biggest recent success has been “Push Girls,” which completed its second season earlier this year. Still, The Sundance Channel doesn’t reach everyone. “Push Girls” is a giant step forward, but there is much more room for improvement. It would be nice for network channels that everyone gets to freely feature people in chairs. So, what might be stopping them?
You may have seen the show “Ironside” on NBC this fall, a remake of the 1960s-70s TV show about a high-profile detective who sustained a spinal cord injury in the line of duty. The show clearly depicted Detective Ironside as a smart, independent, and capable person in a chair. They showed him getting in and out of his chair without help, they showed him working out, they showed him doing physical tasks from his chair, and they showed him having relationships with women. They showed how the things he’s learned from being in a chair actually help him in his job and in his ability to solve crimes. The show also explored the psychological difficulties of him coping with being in a chair and the trials of trying to make others around him accept his disability as much as he has. True, Ironside was played by Blair Underwood, who isn’t a chair user in real life, which begs the question that someone who is actually a chair user should get the opportunity to play the part of someone in a chair, but on the flipside, Underwood is a big-name actor, and the fact that he would want to play the part of someone in a chair, and quite convincingly from my perspective, just might be a great way to draw in people who wouldn’t have watched it with an actor they didn’t know. 

Disability Advocate Honored by White House as a ‘Champion of Change’

by Kelly Rouba
This article is reprinted with permission by

Over the past eight years, Scott Ellis has trained thousands of New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents—many with disabilities—on how to prepare for emergencies. Although most of them probably thought they’d never need to worry about being affected by a real disaster, that all changed after Hurricane Sandy made landfall last October.
“For many people, Hurricane Sandy was a huge wake-up call and now, more than ever, they realize the importance of being prepared for a major disaster,” says Ellis, who is the emergency preparedness training coordinator for the Progressive Center for Independent Living (PCIL) in Hamilton, New Jersey.
On September 24, Ellis was among three individuals honored by the White House as one of their Champions of Change for Community Preparedness and Resilience. The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. This particular award celebrates “Americans who are preparing communities for disasters and helping them respond and recover.”

In Search of the Perfect Wheelchair Bag

by Wendy Crawford

A couple years ago, I was holiday shopping at an outlet mall. Even though I detest the cold, I love the holidays and embrace every tradition there is, especially shopping! Bundled up like the little brother in “Christmas Story," I watched the shoppers go by with their shopping bags as I enjoyed listening to Bing Crosby for the zillionth time.

We noticed a sale at the Coach outlet, so we stopped in to find some gifts. We had no idea what we were in for! It was an absolute complete madhouse! Women were lined up, waiting to enter, while salespeople tried to keep order in the chaos. We decided to stay on course and, after a long wait outdoors, we proceeded into the store. How can a girl miss out on a bargain? 

Through the craziness, I saw all the beautiful bags and purses in a variety of vibrant colors. Suddenly, I felt a slight pang of envy. For the past 20-plus years since my C5/6 injury, purses were too difficult for me to handle due to my limited hand function; I had always opted out for “practical” bags for the back of my chair.  Since they weren’t pretty, they were always black to blend into the back of my chair, and I used the same one year round. It was at that moment that I realized I was tired of settling for a “practical” bag. Here in the Coach store, I began my search for the perfect chic bag.

Robyn's MobileFRIENDLY Recipe - Angel Hair Pasta with Spinach and Anchovies!

Robyn Keller, Contributor & Outreach Coordinator
Here is another Mobile Friendly Recipe for you to try.  I really love cooking with anchovies! They practically dissolve, but they lend this wonderful flavor to any sauce. Other important reasons to eat them are that they are sustainable and healthy, as they are full of fatty acids that can help lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease. They're also a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamins E and D. In fact, you have probably eaten them before and not even realized it since they are in Worcestershire sauce and Caesar salad dressing!
Even if you “think” you don’t like anchovies, please give it a shot. I promise you, this recipe will make you an anchovy convert!!  I made it several years ago for my husband, Steve’s birthday.  He loves it so much that it has become a birthday tradition.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as we do!
Angel Hair Pasta with Spinach and Anchovies
Here are a few ideas that I use to help me prepare this recipe.  I use a food chopper to dice the onions and chop the garlic. I do have trouble opening the anchovies, so I have someone open the cans and put the anchovies along with the oil into a container that I can open later.  I put the thawed spinach in a strainer and press out the excess water; you can also press with a paper towel.  When the pasta is cooked, I use a plastic pasta fork attached to my Norco Universal Quad Cuff to scoop the pasta from the boiling water to the skillet. This way I don’t have to transfer the boiling pot of water and mess with trying to pour everything into a colander.  Another great thing to use is a pasta pot; it has the colander built right in.